RICKY MARTIN, Claimant
EARLING GRAIN AND FEED, Employer,
FIREMAN’S INSURANCE COMPANY OF WASHINGTON, D.C., Insurance Carrier, Defendants.
Iowa Workers Compensation
Before the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner
February 7, 2021
Note Nos. 1804, 2502, 2907
F. CHRISTENSON DEPUTY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
OF THE CASE
Ricky Martin, filed a petition in arbitration seeking
workers’ compensation benefits from Earling Grain and
Feed, Inc. (Earling), employer and Fireman’s Insurance
Company of Washington, D.C., insurer, both as defendants.
This matter was heard in Des Moines, Iowa on October 15,
2019, with a final submission date of March 2, 2020.
record in this case consists of Joint Exhibits 1-8,
Claimant’s Exhibits 9-17, Defendants’ Exhibits
A-E, and the testimony of claimant and his wife, Julie Ann
parties filed a hearing report at the commencement of the
arbitration hearing. On the hearing report, the parties
entered into various stipulations. All of those stipulations
were accepted and are hereby incorporated into this
arbitration decision and no factual or legal issues relative
to the parties’ stipulations will be raised or
discussed in this decision. The parties are now bound by
claimant has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
extent of claimant’s entitlement to permanent partial
was 50 years old at the time of hearing. Claimant graduated
from high school. Claimant has spent most of his work life as
a truck driver. Claimant also worked for a security company
from 2010 through 2016, when his problems with macular
degeneration did not allow him to drive a truck. (Exhibit 12,
pages 211-212; Transcript pp. 58-59) Claimant’s prior
medical history is relevant. In 2001 and 2003, claimant had
work-related back injuries. (Joint Ex. 9, p. 182) From 2010
through 2016, claimant was on Social Security Disability due
to the macular degeneration condition that prevented him from
driving a truck. The record indicates claimant’s vision
condition improved with treatment and claimant returned to
truck driving in 2016. (Ex. D, pp. 10; Ex. E, p. 26; Ex. 9,
p. 196; Ex. 12, p. 212) Claimant began working for Earling in
May of 2017. Claimant’s job involved driving a truck
and loading and unloading the truck.
21, 2017, claimant was driving from Denison, Iowa. Another
vehicle stopped in front of him and claimant went off the
road into a field. Claimant said he kicked open the door of
the truck cab and got out of the truck and collapsed.
Claimant testified he lost consciousness. (Tr. pp. 70-71)
Claimant said the next thing he recalled was waking up in the
emergency room of a hospital. (Tr. p. 71) Claimant’s
wife testified the accident totaled the semi-truck. (Tr. p.
39) Claimant was evaluated at the Myrtue Medical Center on
the date of injury. (Jt. Ex. 1, p. 2) Claimant had a
laceration over the left eye and complained of headaches.
Records seem to indicate that claimant had no loss of
consciousness, although this is not entirely clear. (Jt. Ex.
1, p. 2; Ex. E, pp. 30-31) Claimant underwent a CT scan of
the head and a chest x-ray. The chest x-ray was normal. The
CT scan showed a left periorbital and right frontal scalp
hematoma. (Ex. 1, pp. 5-8) Claimant was released from the
hospital on the date of injury. Claimant was evaluated by R.
Adam Bendorf, M.D. on July 25, 2017. Claimant had bruising on
the lower back and pain in the left wrist and a headache with
nausea. Claimant was assessed as having a brain concussion
and a sprain of the left wrist. (Jt. Ex. 1, pp. 9-11)
Claimant went to the Manning Regional Health Emergency Room
on July 26, 2017, with complaints of nausea and headaches.
Claimant was taking Tramadol for pain. Claimant was assessed
as having nausea, vomiting and headaches and post-concussive
symptoms. (Jt. Ex. 2, pp. 14-15) Claimant returned to Dr.
Bendorf on July 28, 2017. Claimant still had some soreness in
his lower back and left wrist, but thought he could return to
work on July 31, 2017. Dr. Bendorf released claimant to
return to work without restrictions. (Jt. Ex. 1, p. 12-13)
returned full time to work with Earling on July 31, 2017.
Claimant’s wife, Julie Martin, testified claimant did
see a chiropractor for some back and hip problems after his
return to work.
Martin testified she noticed differences in claimant after
his injury and his return to work. She said claimant had
memory difficulty. She said claimant would forget to shower
and he would forget to pay bills. She said that prior to the
accident, her husband was relatively happy. After the
accident, claimant was easily agitated and began distancing
himself from family members. (Tr. pp. 15-17) Claimant worked
for Earling until November 28, 2017, when he was laid off.
Claimant found other work. The record indicates claimant
worked a few days for Flatbed Express. Claimant got into a
yelling match with a crane operator and was fired. (Tr. p.
18) Claimant then went to work for a trucking company in
Council Bluffs. Claimant worked for the Council Bluffs firm
for a few weeks but got into an argument with a supervisor
and was fired after he slammed the supervisor against a
truck. (Tr. p. 19) Both claimant and his wife testified this
aggressive behavior was not something claimant had shown on
prior occasions. (Tr. pp. 19-20, 75) Claimant applied for a
third trucking job. Claimant was not hired by that employer
because he was unable to pass a DOT physical due to his
vision and high blood pressure. (Jt. Ex. 3, pp. 17-18; Tr. p.
20) Claimant has not worked anywhere else since December
2017. (Tr. p. 20) Claimant has not looked for work since
failing to pass the DOT physical.
February 14, 2018, claimant was evaluated by Morgan LaHolt,
M.D. with Madonna Rehabilitation Specialists. Claimant was
assessed as having a traumatic brain injury from a motor
vehicle accident with cognitive, emotional, and somatic
complaints. Claimant was prescribed medication and
recommended to have counseling and medication management.
Claimant’s symptoms were consistent with a